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Northwest OH Legal Blog

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Special Circumstances Considered When Calculating Workers' Comp Disability Payments

In many cases, Workers’ Compensation claimants are entitled to disability payments. There are several forms of disability payments within the system, and each has its own formula in which the amount is calculated based on the claimant’s earnings prior to the injury. The most common is the Average Weekly Wage. This is calculated by taking all of a claimant’s wages earned from all jobs in the past year and dividing by 52. For example, a Claimant who earned $52,000 in the prior year would have an Average Weekly Wage of $1,000: $52,000/52 = $1,000. The Claimant would likely get the maximum amount allowed in this case.

But what happens when a Claimant is hurt shortly after returning to the workforce? For example, say a Claimant returns to work for the first time in over, and after a week on the job, he gets hurt. If he only earned $1,000 that one week, his Average Weekly Wage would be $19.23: $1,000/52 = $19.23. Although there may be a minimum payment that applies, it would obviously be very unfair to the Claimant to have such a low compensation rate.

However there is relief in the Revised Code if the Claimant’s reasons for not working were caused by “special circumstances,” and the normal method of computing wages cannot be justified. In these cases, the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation can use any method that will render “substantial justice” to the claimant. A common example is unemployment. If a claimant is unemployed, and is looking for work, the BWC will not include this time in the calculation. In the example above, if the Claimant was unemployed for those 51 weeks, the BWC would likely divide the wages by the number of weeks actually worked, which in his or her case was 1. This would result in an AWW of $1,000: $1,000/1 = $1,000.

Other special circumstances courts have found to justify different wage calculations are when the Claimant is entering the work force for the first time, leaving the workforce due to serious illness, even caring for children in some cases. Documentation must be used in all cases to support the Claimant’s reasons for not being employed. In many cases, a sworn affidavit will suffice.

It is most important to remember in all cases that wages will not be adjusted if the Claimant simply chose not work. For example, teachers and others in the education profession may not work in the summer. They cannot write those weeks office unless they were looking for work during the period in which they were off.

Do not assume that your claim is of low value simply because the BWC set a low wage. You should contact an attorney who will examine your claim and assist you in making sure get what you are entitled. If you have questions regarding how the BWC calculates disability payments, call the attorneys at Allotta | Farley at (419) 535-0075 for a free consultation. 


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With offices in Toledo and Lima, OH Allotta Farley Co., L.P.A. serves clients throughout northwest OH with various legal matters. Areas of service include Allen County, Ashland County, Auglaize County, Crawford County, Defiance County, Erie County, Fulton County, Hancock County, Hardin County, Henry County, Huron County, Lucas County, Marion County, Mercer County, Morrow County, Ottawa County, Paulding County, Putnam County, Richland County, Sandusky County, Seneca County, Van Wert County, Williams County, Wood County, Wyandot County.

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| Phone: 419.535.0075
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